Spend a day or two on the road and in nature on this adventure in the Ozarks. See elk and rivers and lakes. Float, swim, fish, picnic, and relax. Take a hike or rent a boat for the day. Be sure and stick around for a stunning sunset.

READY TO SPEND SOME TIME in the remote Ozarks driving small highways, adventuring out of the vehicle and immersing yourself in nature? Ellington is the perfect designation.

Day 1; 88 miles round trip. Your trip will begin at the Junction of State Highway 21 and Scenic Highway 106 in Ellington where you will head north on Hwy 21, then left on N Hwy, for a day visit to Johnson Shut-Ins and Elephant Rocks State Park(s). At these shut-ins, the East Fork of Black River cascades over smooth-wornigneous rock, creating a natural water park that is used by park visitors. A few more miles north on N Hwy will connect you again with Hwy 21 where you’ll make a left to reach Elephant Rocks State Park. The giant granite 1.5 billion year old “elephant” boulders stand end-to-end, creating formations. Braille Trail is an easy hike, winding through the main area of rocks. After a fun day of exploring two of Missouri’s top parks, head back to Ellington.

Day 2; 26 miles round trip. From Junction Hwy 21, head west on Hwy 106 toward Blue Spring and Current River. Blue Spring is one of the largest springs in Missouri. It’s a short .25-mile hike from the parking area to the spring but worth it. A few miles further west on Hwy 106 is Powder Mill Recreation area. This is a wonderful place to enjoy the Current River. Swim, picnic or launch a day float. The Ozark

Trail crosses Hwy 106 here; this is a great start point for adventure on the trail. Visit OzarkTrail.com for detailed maps and information. After exploring for the day head back to Ellington and relax for the evening.

Day 3; 48 miles round trip. From Ellington take Hwy 21 south 3 miles turning left on H Hwy. towards the beautiful Clearwater Lake. Clearwater Lake is a favorite lake for adventure enthusiasts and one of the best crappie lakes in the state. A new marina is on site for all your lake needs including boat rentals, playground, and beach. Continuing the journey, return to Hwy. 21 and head north through Ellington, then turn east on Hwy. K, where after winding through beautiful hardwoods you will reach crystal clear Black River, the headwater for Clearwater Lake. Here you can enjoy a day float, swimming, picnicking, and fishing. Concession is on site for general needs including floats.

We invite you to enjoy a few days in the Ozarks where you can “slow down and enjoy the good life.” Visit EllingtonMo.com for more information.


1. Reynolds County Museum, Ellington
2. Johnson Shut-ins
3. Elephant Rocks State Park
4. Blue Spring
5. Powder Mill Recreation Area
6. Clearwater Lake
7. Black River


A. Elk Viewing | Current River Conservation Area, Ellington
B. Cardareva Bluff | LogYard Landing
Swimming, Fishing, Camping, Boat Launch

Article originally published in Missouri Life’s Scenic Rides and Drive Guide 2023.